Quantum computers are the next big thing in the tech industry. Here are some startups that have decided to jump in early!
Artificial intelligence (AI) is dominating the global discourse around tech, with scores of articles written about ChatGPT or DALL-E. All these tools can become much more efficient at processing data with the advent of quantum computing.
Simply put, quantum computing is a technology that helps solve problems that would simply take the average computer too much time and power to handle. Quantum computers are rapidly reaching mainstream adoption. In 2021, investment banking company Goldman Sachs predicted that quantum computing could be used in the financial markets within the next five years. Many startups are working on developing quantum computers and using them in different sectors of the economy.
Here is a closer look at quantum computing and a list of projects we can look forward to in this space.
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing is an area of computer technology that leverages quantum mechanics (a realm of science focused on the behavior of light and matter on atomic and subatomic levels) to solve problems too challenging for traditional computers. Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits) that, unlike traditional bits, can perform tasks using a combination of 0 and 1 and both 0 and 1 simultaneously.
This allows many calculations to be carried out simultaneously, speeding up the problem-solving process. The higher the number of qubits, the faster the computing power. Each additional qubit doubles the processing power. One of the best examples of how fast quantum computers process information is from 2021 when researchers from the quantum computing firm D-wave solved a problem three million times faster than a traditional computer.
Companies working in the quantum computing industry
Oxford Quantum Circuits
A pioneer in the quantum computing space, Oxford Quantum Circuits developed the U.K.’s first commercially available quantum computer in 2018. It works on building the hardware of quantum computers. One of its most significant innovations is Coaxmon— a patented 3D architecture setting the foundation for a quantum processor. It scales qubit numbers while maintaining qubit quality (according to the company’s website). Coaxmon will make it possible to scale qubits and make quantum computing commercially viable. Oxford Quantum Circuits intends to use Coaxmon to offer Quantum Computing-as-a-Service (QCaaS). QCaaS provides researchers and scientists access to quantum computing technology via the cloud. As of July this year, the company has raised US$47 million in Series A funding.
The India-based startup QpiAI Tech is an AI-enabled quantum model generation Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider. The company has created a hardware solution that uses three chips—Bumblebee, a scalable cryogenic control chip (a chip that operates at temperatures between −150 °C (−238 °F) to absolute zero (−273 °C or −460 °F)); Trion, a quantum processing unit; and a scalable spin-qubit-based quantum processing unit (QPU). The company intends to optimize performance by using its three-chip hardware about 20 to 100 times.
As of April this year, QpiAI has joined hands with the Finland-based software company QuantrolOx. Together, the duo is working on quantum computing testbeds (platforms for rigorous scientific testing) for India- and Finland-based quantum computing companies.
Even though quantum computers are much better than traditional computers (and even supercomputers) at solving complex problems, they are still susceptible to hacks and cyber attacks. Naturally, there is a need for cybersecurity measures to help cope with these threats, and that is where QuintessenceLabs comes in. This Australian startup is incorporating quantum computing into cybersecurity solutions.
The company is well-recognized for its cybersecurity offerings and has won the 2020 CyberTech100 Award. QuintessenceLabs protects sensitive data from breaches through QStream, a quantum random number generator, and advanced key policy management. Through this, it can create encryption keys with a degree of randomness that is impossible with other devices. The more random the encryption keys are, the harder they are for hackers to crack. In October 2021, the company acquired US$25 million in funding to develop its security solutions further.
Multiverse Computing is a Spanish startup that has set its sights on revamping the financial world with quantum computing. The company offers Singularity, an economic quantum computing tool that enables financial institutions to do anything—from making simple spreadsheets to portfolio management—without having the technical know-how of quantum computing. Singularity is particularly beneficial to the financial sector because it reduces the chances of error by 43% without increasing the time taken to process the information. The company acquired US$11.5 million in seed funding for its projects in 2021.
IonQ is a U.S.-based startup that creates trapped ion technology-powered universal quantum computers. The company claims that traditional quantum computers (made by cooling silicon chips to near zero degrees) are not quite as accurate as their trapped ion computers, where precisely aimed lasers are used to store and retrieve information. IonQ is the only startup on this list with quantum computing systems available through Amazon Braket, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
Quantum computing is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 56% between 2020 and 2030, reaching US$64.98 billion by 2030. These computers, once fully developed, will be able to simplify the process of solving complex problems in a wide range of fields, including artificial intelligence, financial services, chemical engineering and even manufacturing.
Understanding the tremendous potential of quantum computing, many countries have begun investing in this space. For instance, the U.S. invested US$1.8 billion in quantum computing research in 2018. Similarly, India established the National Mission for Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) in 2020 and invested US$1.12 billion (INR8,000 crore). Hopefully, with all these resources going into the sector, startups can scale up their quantum computing operations and make their products more accessible to the industries that require them.
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